Dave Nonis

Nonis wants people to look at Phaneuf’s numbers


It was undoubtedly a little shot at the so-called “advanced statistics” crowd that has continually criticized his team. When Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis met with the media today in Ann Arbor to discuss captain Dion Phaneuf’s seven-year contract extension, he told people to look at the numbers.

Look at the minutes Phaneuf plays. (That would be 24:21 per game.)

Look at his points. (That would be 15 in 39 games this season.)

Look at who he plays against. (That would be the toughest competition in the NHL, according to one measure.)

Granted, even after looking at the numbers, there will be those who doubt Phaneuf is worth $49 million over seven years. A $7 million cap hit puts the 28-year-old in some fairly elite company, right up there with Norris Trophy winners and key members of Stanley Cup champions. But Nonis wanted to make one thing clear: the Leafs didn’t re-sign their captain simply because they didn’t have any other options. Which is to say, it wasn’t a matter of, well, what else are we going to do? Let him walk away for nothing?

“If you’re signing players because you don’t have anyone to replace them, you’re making mistakes,” said Nonis. “We signed Dion to this deal because he deserved it.”

And where are the Leafs in terms of contending for a Stanley Cup?

“We think we’re adding pieces that will help us win,” said Nonis, who feels Phaneuf is the kind of player a team can build around in the long term.

“We feel we have some pieces coming, but we’re not where we need to be at.”

Sabres place Lehner on IR; Recall Lieuwen

Connor Brown, Robin Lehner
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They’re just one game into their regular season, but the Buffalo Sabres have already had to shift things around in their crease.

The Sabres announced that they have placed starting goaltender Robin Lehner on injured reserve after he was knocked out of Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.

In a corresponding move, the club has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

The 24-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, but he did have a 1-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage in seven games during the 2013-14 season.

Lieuwen was Buffalo’s sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2011 draft.

The Sabres also announced that they have loaned defenseman Jake McCabe and goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans (AHL).

McCabe was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, while Ullmark is being activated off I.R. after having double hip surgery during the off-season.



Chara ‘doubtful’ for game against rival Canadiens

Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara
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It looks like the Boston Bruins will be without their captain again on Saturday night.

Head coach Claude Julien told members of the media that Zdeno Chara is considered doubtful for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Chara suffered an upper-body injury during the preseason and he’s already been forced to miss Boston’s season opening loss to the Jets.

Per CSN, Chara says he’s improving but he won’t return to the lineup until he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.

“Every area of the injury is improving,” said Chara. “Hopefully it’s not long before I’m free of any kind of discomfort. That’s what we’re doing right now…we’re being patient. For sure you don’t want to come back, and be half of what you are…and basically hurting yourself and the team. And you’re putting yourself in a position where you could be missing more time. At this time of the season, I think it’s important to be as close as you can be to 100 percent.”

Based on the number of defensive mistakes they committed on Thursday, the Bruins need Chara back as soon as possible: